How does fighting climate change work?

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With everything already being at record levels across the world, what can theoretically and realistically be done? Are we trying to flatten the curve so temperatures don’t get even worse or is there a way to actually reverse what is happening?

In: Planetary Science

6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The planet has a “carbon balance sheet,” a good discussion about it is [here](https://soilcarboncenter.k-state.edu/carbcycle.html).

In short, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide naturally absorbed by the planet every year (e.g., photosynthesis) was, before the Industrial Revolution, roughly balanced with what the planet “exhaled” every year (e.g., due to volcanoes, decomposition, etc.). When human factors are taken into account, there’s a net increases in carbon dioxide with nowhere to go, resulting in inhospitable changes to the global climate (e.g., global warming).

“Fighting climate change” means trying to restore that carbon cycle balance: reducing carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity (e.g., more use of carbon-neutral energy sources like solar), as well as increasing the planet’s ability to absorb more (e.g., reforestation, carbon capture, etc.).

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are really two different answers to this question.

First is what could be done on a scientific level. We could absolutely reverse what has happened, we are nowhere near a point of no return at this time. If we just shut down all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow the world would return to normal.

Second is what can be done on a practical level. This answer is very bleak. The reality is that there is very little that can and will be done to stop climate change. It requires too much work by too many countries. It would take massive changes in worldwide manufacturing, shipping, and developed countries to build renewable infrastructure for developing countries.

Our best bet is geoengineering, but people don’t really care for that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Stick some massive booster somewhere on the equator, at midday blast em for a bit (let the science people work out for how long) and push the Earths orbit out a little bit resulting in a cooler Earth.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Climate change is a huge problem, so it has a ton of different solutions.

1. Energy: the easiest way to make electricity and hot water is to burn fossil fuels. We can’t keep doing that, but the energy grids of entire countries are really big things that take a long time to change. A diversified mix of solar, wind, nuclear, and hydro/geothermal **can** meet our present and future energy needs, but it’s taken years of R&D to make these efficient and cheap. That said, solar has become pretty dirt cheap – China built more solar power in 2023 alone than the US has **ever**. Large amounts of power *storage* is uniquely important, since the most solar power is generated at midday but the most demand is in the evening. Lithium battery tech is impossibly expensive for a whole city grid, but cheaper/sustainable storage like sodium batteries and pumped water storage are rising to the challenge.

2. Transportation: gas bad, electric good (as long as the electricity is from the above, and not fossil fuels). Most developed countries are also moving away from the car as the main way to get around too; a good transit network is more cost-efficient at moving a city full of people, and can be fully electric. Ocean tankers and planes really can’t run on electric batteries (yet?), although short-range flights are increasingly being replaced by much more comfortable, fast trains.

3. Agriculture: industrial fertilizer, which has helped increase crop yields by literally 300% in like 50 years, is made with natural gas as a core ingredient, the process releases greenhouse gases, and it also takes a ton of energy to produce, which is very often fossil fuels. I’m pursuing my masters degree this field, to try and reduce our dependence on fertilizer through more complex, smarter farm management. This works by understanding the farm as a whole ecosystem and fostering a healthier ecosystem to grow more, which has nice benefits for biodiversity and the resilience of crops to climate change.

4. Government: Individual action really isn’t the way out of this, so it’s really really up to governments to either pass laws to push this transition, or organize/coordinate mass consumer action. Like I said, China has built an absolute ton of solar, they’ve kind of almost skipped gas cars entirely and are way more all-in on EVs than the US or Europe, they see all of this as a huge economic boom. The EU isn’t going quite as hard as China, but they’re doing a lot more than the US is. The US is really dragging our feet on pretty much everything, which really sucks, and is why I’m trying to emigrate to the Netherlands where I can maybe actually do meaningful work :/

There really isn’t a single hard line of pass/fail here, although there might be some thresholds where ocean currents or climate systems could “suddenly” change. If we can’t limit warming to 1.5 degrees C, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to try and limit it to 2 degrees. And things *are* happening. Change *is* happening, and in some cases like solar it’s actually happening way way faster than we dreamed of. It’s just, in other cases, it’s not happening fast enough, and we’re acting like a student who doesn’t want to write their essay until the day before it’s due. But, late or not, I expect efforts to keep ramping up.

There are lots of good people doing good work to create the solutions for a tomorrow worth living in, and you can be one of them.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bill Gates is fighting climate change by funding small nuclear.

We have a carbon pollution problem because good quality of life requires a bunch of energy. The US has cut CO2 by switching from coal to natural gas, you literally can’t produce more CO2 than you get by burning C.

Low cost energy will enable much less fossil fuel usage. Government mandates and carbon credit scams isn’t going to motivate anything. Offering more energy, safely, at lower cost to everybody on Earth is a great business and people will switch to it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

What can you do? Lots.
What is meaningful…… here are some facts.

Each person in a western country emits approx. 58.6 tonnes of C02 annually.

Going vegan saves 0.82 tonnes of C02 annually.

Switching to electric vehicle from gas saves 1.15 tonnes of C02 annually.

Recycling save 0.21 tonnes of C02 annually.

Considering those stats, you could make a big difference very easily. Or you could have several kids and do everything green and be severely harming the environment.